November 8th, 2009
11:44 AM ET
11 years ago

Cao says he put his district's needs over his party's wishes

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao said Sunday he put the needs of his district over the desire of his party in being the lone House Republican to vote for a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system.

Related: Lone GOP vote came after call from Obama

Cao's "yes" vote ended up being unnecessary for House Democrats in the 220-215 tally, but as the only GOP member to support the bill, he gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi license to tout bipartisan support for the controversial measure.

"I felt last night's decision was the proper decision for my district even though it was not the popular decision for my party," Cao, a first-term representative from Louisiana's traditionally Democratic 2nd District, told CNN.

"A lot of my constituents are uninsured, a lot of them are poor," Cao said. "It was the right decision for the people of my district."

The first Vietnamese-American to serve in the House, Cao defeated nine-term Democratic incumbent William Jefferson in last year's election. Jefferson was under indictment on money laundering and bribery charges at the time, and has since been convicted.

Cao, a devout Catholic, said Sunday that an amendment to strengthen anti-abortion language in the House bill cleared the way for his support.

"When that was worked out … I called the White House and said I could possibly support the bill," said Cao, adding he discussed getting continued help for his district as it seeks to fully recover from the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

Asked about the reaction of fellow Republicans to his vote, Cao said the party's leaders "respect my decision, and I respect theirs."

"To tell you the truth, neither one of us really knows what is the right decision," he said of the complex health care bill, citing differing reports and differing studies on its impact. "Ultimately, we have to make that leap of faith."

The bill's approval by the House late Saturday night marked a major step for Obama's top domestic priority. If the Senate now passes its own version, the two bills would be merged, and the final version would require approval from each chamber before being sent to the president for his signature.

Filed under: GOP • Health care • House • Louisiana • Popular Posts
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Palin is also one of the "3" headed serpents of the Republican party.

    November 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Chuck

    Hey, Pat F @ 11:46:

    The same people that voted Mr. Cao in office will vote him again in 2010, Why, because he voted for the best interests of his constituents. That's probably something you cannot understand or relate to, yes?.

    November 8, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  3. Independent

    Good for Mr. Cao to put people before Party. The House bill is not perfect and we can not pretend any bill would be, but is better than doing nothing and ignoring this huge problem in America.

    November 8, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. Ted

    Cao gets it. The GOP typically stands against the uninsured and uninsurable masses, but will subsidize rich corporations like Exxon. I really don't see how the GOP will ever regain popularity when it is so anti-people, but pro-business.

    November 8, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. John E Lexington KY

    I used to think the 60s Republicans who tried to stop civil rights and gave us Nixon were horrible, in this bunch only one has the decency to vote the interests of the public.

    One note – 'devout Catholic' – we have separation of church and state in the US. I don't care how devout Cao is, his religion should have nothing to do with his vote, no matter the issue. Devout Catholics have voted in favor of abortion rights without mention of their religion.

    Some of the arguments against health care – a caller on CSpan claimed this was a first step to government forcing fast food joints to close – suggest a chemical imbalance due to diet, a glut of protein and fat-hardened arteries. Perhaps fast food joints should close.

    November 8, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |

    Neal in Atlanta November 8th, 2009 10:36 am ET

    The violation is just starting. That was just a sloppy wet kiss. The rape will commence if / when the Senate approves its version. After OBAMACARE is passed and everyone is under the heavy thumb of the government and dependent on the government for their healcare needs, the DemoNazis will go after our guns (especially after the latest shootings in Ft. Hood, TX and Orlando, FL) and we will then be truely defenseless. Our only hope is the elections in 2010 when we can get a few seats back in the House an Senate and take away that super majority. Then maybe in 2012 we can get a good conservative in the white house and start undoing the damage done by all these bleeding heart liberal democrats.
    Mr. Neal in Atlanta,... when you make accusations about DemoNazis,... take a good look at the poster boys of the Republicans,.. nice German Aryan names, like Karl Rove, Michele Bachman,. tea bagger supporters like John Ratzenberger, Jon Voight,
    throw in John Boehner, Limbaugh, Beck,... and you have a team that would make Hitler proud.

    November 8, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Jerry in NC

    To all of you who are opposed to health care reform and allowing less fortunate people to afford health care.....if it makes you so upset and you are so worried about having to "foot the bill".....why do ALL of you, and your grandchildren, just GET THE HELL OUT OF THE COUNTRY! We AMERICANS, don't want or need you here, anyway!

    November 8, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  8. John

    Irony .... every cent of debt incurred by the USA as of 10-31-09 is on former Pres. Bush's tab ..... Pres. Obama's first fiscal year budget began at oo:oo:o1 Sunday morning, 11-1-09.

    November 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. Mother Theresa

    The right-wing is selfish. They claim to be Christians, yet they'd rather spend money on war than on the health and care of their fellow Americans.

    They claim to be anti-govt. yet benefit from many things the govt. provides. They call healthcare reform "welfare," yet have no poblem with govt. subsidies to corporations.

    What cold, callous, hypocritical people they are.

    November 8, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  10. David

    This is tremendous, what a victory. No one can argue with free markets and fiscal responsibility with non essential programs but health careis should not be treated like a commodity and it's about time that the republicans came around. I ask again, why can they do it in Europe and Canada and not here?

    November 8, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. Walter

    If you read the Federalist Papers, this Representative is doing exactly what the Founders would want him to do.

    Republicans who represent wealthy districts should vote for the status quo at every opportunity; not because they have been paid by the insurance companies to do it (which they often have) but because the people of their districts don't need help and don't want anyone else to have it.

    But Republicans like Representative Cao, whose constituents often lack health coverage and need help to get it, should vote to serve the interests of the people who voted them into the Congress in the first place.

    The fact that the Ideologues of the right are threatening this man, while the left is not threatening the dozens of Democrats who voted against reform, tells you all you need to know about the parties.

    The Republican Party has been taken over by totalitarians.

    November 8, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  12. dale zalewski

    To Henry Miller – Libertarian

    Libertarium – A shiny metallic substance of great lustre, sharing many physical properties with marxium.
    Libertarium is not found outside the laboratory and is stable only when confined in an academic field. It is created by bombarding economictherium with swiveleyeons of dodgylogicum. Spontaneously fissions upon contact with reality to form one stable particle of conservativium and five mutually repulsive radicals of loonyfringium, each with a half-life of an estimated 15 femtoseconds.

    November 8, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. Big Blue Patriot

    James Harper November 8th, 2009 11:51 am ET

    "With 39 defections, Republicans can more credibly claim "bipartisan opposition" than Stretch Pelosi can claim 'bipartisan support.'"

    Right, Mr. Harper. And all that matters is which side wins, not about working in the interests of the American people.

    That's one reason why the right remains a "boy's fraternity."

    And why it, and self-centered Democrats, will continue to lose. The Tea Baggers are wrong: the Revolution going on isn't against government, it's against bad governance.

    November 8, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. JILL29

    For those Democrats who were so indimidated and voted against the Heathcare reform bill, I hope you are ousted on your ears next election. I hope the Democratic Party and voters remember your actions........i will.

    November 8, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. Thad Darden

    Scott Smith : It is more expensive to send a letter with Fedex or UPS because the USPS has a legal monopoly over first class mail. It has nothing to do with inefficiencies of UPS and Fedex.

    November 8, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  16. Angelique

    How do you figure Pat? If he is listening to his constituents, you don't think they're going to think he's a swell guy? How many times have you complained about your representatives not listening to their constituents? We elected them to be our voice at the top, this is what their job SHOULD be. Represent your districts congress!

    The Republicans have been going to ridiculous extremes to warp health care reform into something ominous, and you have to wonder who they are working for. They are repeating over and over about how the government is going to "force" their health care standards on you. Stop and ask yourself what those standards are, and go actually research what they are and see if it's actually as scary as it sounds. No one is going to force you to have the *public option*. Look up the health care systems of Germany and Australia. Do some of your OWN research. Stop feeding into the fear.

    November 8, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. zoo

    FINALLY! A politician who puts the people before politics! Especially knowing his "party" will now gladly feed him to the wolves. I honestly thought integrity was dead in the republican party. So relieved at least one still has it.

    November 8, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. ken wiiliams

    uninsured at emergency rooms is a huge huge problem, but that not the only huge problem. i have insurance through my job, and when i went to the emergency room for a minor problem, my biil was over ten thousand dollars. a x-ray, few tylenol and a few hours in a bed. that's the price they billed my insurance company for. when my insurance company told the hospital that they would'nt pay.., they tried to come after me. finally something was paid, cause i only gotten a new bill with just the co-pay on it. i think the real problem may be the hospitals, clinics, and other institutionlize places that give healthcare.
    dont get me wrong, insurance company's are the big problem, but i dont think it the only one. i hope i made sense. sorry for the grammar errors.

    November 8, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Chuck

    I am a devout Catholic and a strong believer in the separation of church and state. I've noticed that the Catholic Church and its bishops are fast becoming polical activists and should stay out of politics and tend to their flocks in a spiritual sense.

    Many people came to this country because of too much church involvement and influence in the politics of their day. THAT IS WHY THIS GREAT COUNTRY OF OURS WAS CREATED ON THE BASIS OF SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.

    November 8, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. K2

    Several states, like Colorado, have a safety-net insurance program at the state level. If your district feels that is a desirable thing, why haven't they created one in their state? Why wait for the federal government to do it?

    I'll take one guess why: they didn't want to pay for it. At the state level, taxes would need to go up. But, if they rely on a federal program, it can just be charged to the national credit card for future generations to pay.

    November 8, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. nick

    funny how all g(r)opers are concerned that dems will bankrupt america's future with the expensive health care bill .where was your moral outrage when bush spent excessive amounts waging war in iraq and afghanistan.
    you have money to wage war but none to spend on the health care needs of your my friends are already bankrupt...morally and the sad thing is that you do not even know you are broke!!!

    November 8, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. The Essential Republican

    Cao needs to learn that being a GOP congressman has nothing to do with representing one's constituents–it's about representing big business! A pox on his house!

    November 8, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. js -----santee

    tata mcgee........ The violation was 8 years of Bush; a fantasy war and NO Federal regulations on wall street and the banks and a lack of concern for a country living on an oil economy. The budget was balanced when bush took office....

    November 8, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  24. Kay Dallas

    Rep Cao will switch party and run as a Dem in 2012. Mark my words. The RepubliKKKans will run him out of the party.

    November 8, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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